Owners of Dubai’s The Address Downtown Hotel Vow to Rebuild Amid Safety Concerns
Photo via Twitter/rascottdotcom
An investigation has begun as to the cause of the fire that broke out at the 63-story The Address Downtown in Dubai on New Year’s Eve.
Dubai police said 14 people were slightly injured during the evacuation of the skyscraper, and over 60 people were treated for smoke inhalation and other ailments at the scene, Reuters reported.
In a statement, Mohamed Alabbar, Chairman of Emaar Properties — owners of The Address Downtown — acknowledged the help of Dubai Civil Defence, Dubai Police, Dubai Ambulance Services, the RTA, Dubai Heath Authority “and all the governmental authorities concerned,” who he said “coordinated and responded with maximum efficiency.”
Alabbar also stated that all people in the building were evacuated, “safely (and) in record time in a most orderly fashion.”
Displaced guests and residents have been accommodated in other places of lodging in the city, according to the statement.
“We develop our projects to the highest standards of quality and as per international best practices,” Alabbar said in the statement, declaring, “we are determined to restore (the hotel) to all its glory, and even surpass the splendid architectural standards.”
But as Reuters pointed out, this latest high-rise blaze (the third in three years) has raised questions about the safety of materials used on the exterior of these buildings.
Called “cladding,” these layers are put on the outside of these skyscrapers for decoration, insulation or protection, according to Reuters.
Experts say the cladding used in most of Dubai’s 250 high-rises is polyurethane sandwiched with aluminum sheets, Reuters said.
Phil Barry, founder of Britain's CWB Fire Safety Consultants Ltd. told Reuters that this type of cladding can be flammable and channel fires through windows into the interiors of buildings.
Barry said to the news service that during his time as a consultant in the Gulf in 2012, he saw "a general trend of fires in high-rises", which meant to him that there is a need for “stronger regulation and tougher building codes.”
The UAE did revised its building safety code in 2013 to require the cladding on all new buildings over 50 feet in height to be fire-resistant, Reuters said, but buildings erected before that year are exempt. Barry noted that the “vast majority” of the country’s skyscrapers fall outside of the new rules — The Address Downtown, completed in 2008, is one of them.
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